Meteor Nabs $11.2M to Democratize Advanced Web Development

Startup Meteor, an alum of startup accelerator Y Combinator, provides an open source development platform designed to give any web developer with JavaScript knowledge the ability to create advanced, highly interactive features that would normally require significant resources in terms of time, staff and effort. Today the company announced $11.2 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz and including Matrix Partners. The funding will help Meteor build its open source tool, as well as provide it with top-tier advisory talent familiar with the moves required to scale a business based on bringing open source innovation to enterprise customers.

Meteor will remain focused on delivering its open source software, which is designed to help developers easily build tools that don’t require page refreshes into their apps. Popular examples of this kind of web tech in action include Facebook’s photo browsing interface, as well as any kind of streaming data feed. Before now, building these kinds of tools has taken tremendous effort, and often required heavily specialized development talent and diversified teams to accomplish. Meteor wants to bring that high level of innovation to the rest of the web.

“We’re at the beginning of a shift in the industry, and the shift is away from web sites where the software runs on a web server somewhere in the data center, and sends down essentially finished web pages for the user to view in a browser,” Meteor co-author Matt DeBergalis said in an interview. “We’re moving toward running the application right in front of the user, either on their phone as a native mobile app, or inside the browser as a JavaScript/HTML5 application.”

DeBergalis says that the motivation behind this is to make the user experience much better. It’s the key to creating the kind of dynamic, hyper-interactive web and app experiences that automatically propagate changes made by the user across a variety of platforms, and it’s also something users have come to expect by interacting with the web products of the best-funded and best-staffed web businesses, like Google and Facebook. Enabling developers to be able to deliver those same kinds of experiences without countless hours spent programming, or without costly outsourcing of crucial components, should go a long way toward helping smaller players catch up.

Eventually, the plan for Meteor is to look at ways that it can leverage its work with its current open source tech to help it generate revenue with enterprise customers. That’s why the startup went with the investors it did, according to DeBergalis. “The reason we selected the firms we did is that they have deep experience in bringing successful open source technology to the enterprise,” he said. “So Rod Johnson, who founded Springsource [later acquired by VMware], which brought the Spring framework to the enterprise will join our board.” Also advising the company will be Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Peter Levine, who brought open source virtualization software Zen to the enterprise, as well as David Skok of Matrix partners, who brought JBoss to enterprise.

The company gets not only a sizeable round of funding through the deal, then, but also highly qualified expertise to help it work on its business model. For at least the next year, however, DeBergalis says that the focus will be on building Meteor and the community of developers helping contribute to the open source project. In will be interesting to see what kind of innovations come out of that, and that make their way to web and mobile applications as a result.

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